Free Winter Heat- almost


Like the old fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, if you head up to high country these days you’ll see lots of “ants” preparing for the winter by cutting firewood – lots of firewood.


It seems every year about this time, as soon as the roads into the high country have opened up and the snow has receded from mountain slopes and valleys, pickup trucks carrying chain saw wielding guys show up in large numbers fulfilling their childhood dream of being a lumberjack.


Here locally we have our own Paul Bunyan of the forest glades who dates back to the early days of logging these mountains and has cut millions of years’ worth of timber.  Big John from South Fork tells about those early days and that he had the very first chain saw in the valley. And most remarkably, at 95 years old still seems to have all his fingers and toes left, too. His life is a real testament that being outdoors keeps you young.


Now, Ol’ Dutch has been tempted many a day to participate in firewood activity. The idea that all that wonderful heat-giving-wood is there for the taking and a $5 permit is more than this old miser can stand.


Any of you that have cut firewood before can attest that there may be a few more costs involved than just the permit from the USFS, though.


Such things as a chain saw which can set a guy back a good $400 but it’s a tool, right? Plus, it’s a good investment for the future heating of the home.


Then there is the box where to store the prized chain saw which will only be a mere $100, plus chains, oil and gas which will set you back another $100 or so. Before you get too discouraged, however, remember all that exercise you will be getting and surely losing weight will also be part of that equation.


There are the other expenses such as a truck and a trailer to haul the newly cut wood home in. The good thing about owning a trailer is you will now have lots of new friends who will need to borrow it. The bad thing is they never seem to return it when they say they will.  And if returned will certainly have a flat tire or a new dent from a fire hydrant. But the stripe of red paint does lend a certain air to the once jet black trailer.


Heating pads, Aspirin and other smallish items are really not to be seriously considered but trips to the chiropractor to straighten out a kink in your back from carrying the firewood can set you back a cool $400. But remember, you are saving money so a few expenses along the way are to be expected.


Following your brother-in-law’s advice to back up closer to the tree, you end up needing a new tire on the truck as a branch punctures the sidewall. Now this isn’t a cheapo no name tire but a good Cooper at about $280. But the tread was down on it some and winter is coming so you can’t count that expense in actuality.


Enthusiastically throwing blocks of wood into the truck, you hit the side and give it a good dent. Not to worry, you have insurance but you have a $500 deductible and goes against your good record which means your rates will go up about $400 a year. Remember, though, saving money is the most important thing here, so don’t fret.


Getting tired you have a minor mishap with the running saw and end up in the E.R. It’s just a small nick but 17 stitches and $4500 later you are good as new and you finally have a stack of wood in the garage.


All of these things could give the average man or woman reason for concern but not the true outdoors man. He is used to some diversity like the time the new wall tent caught fire, the transmission went out in the truck and Uncle Floyd lost his false teeth on the elk hunting trip. But boy howdy did he ever save on meat that winter. That deer they harvested provided 80 pounds of healthy, low-fat, low cholesterol venison. Plus after it was freezer burned, he got a great tax write off for donating it to the local animal shelter.


But as for the firewood, what a joy there is in knowing you did it all yourself and it only cost you $5

Hiking with Dennis

Wow!! We had 11 kids today for climbing on the boulders South of Million Res., also had enough adults along to keep track of all of them.  Amazing how helpful the kids are toward one another to climb the rocks, carry each others packs and share their snacks.

It was pretty wet after yesterdays rain so we had to be extra careful doing the climbing, only had one injury requiring any first aid, Jada skinned her shin up.  A few minutes after bandaging she was back in the thick of everything................

I really enjoyed the outing, I hope everyone else did as well.

See you next week

Fishing the Rio Grande

Trout Fishing The Grande 7-24-14

Brook Trout 7-17-14  

Brook Trout 7-17-14


This past week found me out and about the Upper Rio Grande partaking in some phenomenal trout fishing.

I started the week with some dry fly fishing in the Rio Grande River between South Fork and Creede and had one of the best days I can remember on the river ever. The bite was slow but I had some 18 inch fish come to hand before I was done. No hatch of any significance was seen during my outing but the mosquitoes about carried me off. I had forgotten my bug spray but probably won't to that again as they were so bad I finally had to leave the river. The fish came were hitting hair wing patterns on top and I got a few on emergers which showed me why there were no fish rising to the surface to cast to.

We took an ATV ride this week also and then walked a short distance into a small mountain lake. It took awhile to convince the fish to bite but once they started we quickly had our limit of 16 fish. These were Brook Trout and averaged about 14 inches which is really big for that species. We always keep fish from this lake as the meat is as red as a salmon. I even tried some raw as a sushi dish for my lunch and its always so good. While I am sworn to secrecy on the location of this lake, there are many such lakes scattered around the mountains and all you need is a good map or Google Earth to find them and plan a hike into them. A lot of them are withing a half mile of a Forest Service Road so not really out of reach to most fishermen and women.

Big Meadows turned on again this week and the bite was at mid day just like it was for us on the smaller lake. I expect Road Canyon and Rio Grande Reservoir to continue to turn out some great fish and Rio Hondo is also producing good catches of trout. The moss has not taken over some of these lakes and so the savvy angler has to find a way to work around that situation to be successful. This will continue now until the water temperatures once again get cold enough that the moss and grasses cannot grow in the water.

All of the prepared baits are working well in the area lakes and every angler has a favorite color. When I do bait fish, I like the preformed bait balls that resemble a string of pearls. But today, the bite was on the rainbow colored Power Bait. Worms always work well in the smaller streams and the fish will always take those. I do know that trolling is still hot for those of you who have a boat and can avoid the grasses and moss not accumulating. I saw some 3lb fish come to camp last week and they were sure pretty.

The summer bite is definitely developing with fish going deeper with the rising water temperatures. I recommend light lines now and light weights for the bait fishermen and dry flies for those of you that like to pursue fish in that manner. Whether you fish with bait, a fly and a bubble, spinners, troll, fly fish or other methods, the important thing is to enjoy being in the outdoors and having a safe and productive day.

Any day that ends with memories being carried home is a great day afield.

Ulysses Kansas and the School

Early days in Kansas were filled with courthouse wars and scandals of every type. We think its bad today but there were scammers even then.

One story my grandfather told was about the town of Ulysses. It seems they built a new beautiful brick schoolhouse and assessed taxes on it to the town. The people got tired of paying the taxes and so jacked up their buildings and houses and moved across the draw out of the city limits thereby leaving no one to pay for the school house.

Most buildings were on skids and could be towed by teams of horses or mules to new locations with ease.


Dodge City Early Days on the Railroad

My grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick who was born in 1889 in Dodge City lived a greatly varied life. He became a Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor early on and worked for the Sante Fe Railroad in Kansas surveying lines and tracks for a few years.

He told some great stories about those times which I think would have been about 1919 right after he returned from WWI.

One winter he was in Great Bend, Kansas doing some work which is about 85 miles from Dodge City. He boarded a train for a ride back home and it was below zero outside. A potbelly stove was trying to keep the coach warm but soon a contest was begun where each man was to put his foot outside in the cold as the train roared along the countryside.

It was so cold that one by one they all finally had to surrender to the cold and get their feet back inside except for one older gent. He was whistling and happy as can be and won the pot easily.

Later it was found out that he had a wooden leg. They all had a great laugh over that and let him keep the pot.


Road Canyon Reservoir

It appears that Road Canyon is the latest lake to go down for repairs. This will be short lived however and will reopen on June 12. Please call DOW or Forest Service to make sure its open before you make the long drive.

Will sample Big Meadows tomorrow and report back on the fishing. Paula's relatives are in town and they will have a blast with those dancing rainbows.


Continental Reservoir 2014

The newspaper reported today that the road into Continental Reservoir will be closed for this season. Work is going to be done on the spillway of the dam and it will be too dangerous to let the public in to fish or for any other outdoor activities.

SO with Beaver out also, that puts a real hardship on the fishermen here for the summer. The rest of the lakes will take a beating and with fears that Road Canyon Lake will turn acid from the ash runoff due to the fire last year, there is reason for real concern.



Hiking with Dennis 6-4-14

WE drove up to the end of the road above Coller area and then took off to the West on an old logging road.  We went by the old cabins and continued up to the bench below the peak. We picked up a horseback trail about 2 miles out and followed it until it went straight up a long, long hill.  We started at about 9200 ft elevation and stopped at 9960.


We saw lots and lots of wildflowers of all varieties; one place was literally carpeted with Heartleaf Arnica and Golden Banner.  The camera just can't convey how pretty it actually was.............


We drug a big rock far enough to attach it to a tree with a winch and sent it off the road; George it took 3 of us about 30 minutes to clear the road..


Please come and join us Monday, Wayne will be taking us on a great hike somewhere around South Fork.  Be there at 9AM with a lunch, water and a friend.